Magic Carpet SpireaSpiraea x bumalda ‘Walbuma’
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Spiraea x bumalda ‘Walbuma’
Outdoor Growing zone
The Magic Carpet Spirea is a low-growing deciduous shrub, reaching no more than 2 feet tall, but spreading up to 3 feet wide. It carries a kaleidoscope of leaf colors, starting the year bright red, then turning golden-yellow and ending in fall with glowing russet reds. All through June and July it is covered in clusters of bright pink blooms, and it makes a great addition to even the smallest garden. Perfect for filling the fronts of beds, making borders, or planting on slopes, it is an easy, trouble-free way to brighten your garden without adding garden work to your busy schedule.
Grow the Magic Carpet Spirea in full sun for the best colors and blooming. Unlike its parent, the Goldflame Spirea, it won’t send up plain green stems, and it sprouts earlier in the year too. Hardy in zone 3, but heat resistant even in zone 8, it grows in any well-drained soil, even in urban conditions. Pests and diseases are never a problem. A simple annual trim is all the work needed – and that is optional.
Spirea bushes are among the most reliable and hardy of all our garden shrubs. This is especially true with the ones that have colored foliage, and of them all, the stand-out variety is the Goldflame spirea. With its bright red and golden foliage, it is one of the most useful plants for filling spaces in the garden with color but little work. But sometimes it is too large, reaching 3 or 4 feet tall, and just as wide, and it has some other faults as well. That’s when you need the Magic Carpet Spirea, and the name says it all. Low growing to no more than 2 feet, but spreading up to 3 feet wide, this beauty has all the great coloring of Goldflame – in fact the new leaves are even redder. Plus, its leaves and flowers come earlier, and it doesn’t have that annoying habit of sending out ‘plain Jane’ green stems frequently, which Goldflame is prone to do. It is just as tough and reliable though, so if you love color and you don’t want tall, then this is a magic carpet ride you definitely want to take.
The Magic Carpet Spirea is a dense deciduous shrub growing to between 1 and 2 feet tall. It has a broad, spreading habit, so it will grow 2 to 3 feet wide, while staying low and compact. The leaves are small and neat, typically about 1 inch long and ½ inch wide, but on vigorous shoots they could be twice that size. They are oval, with fine serrations along the edges. This bush has a full and dense look, with many fine branches creating a solid plant. The leaves appear early in spring, a whole month before Goldflame begins to sprout (that shrub is well known for staying bare and twiggy well into the spring). The new leaves are bright cherry red, adding a punch to your garden as it starts another season. As the leaves mature they do a remarkable trick, turning a stunning golden yellow. Your red bush is now gold, but the new leaves keep their red coloring. This makes a bright and cheerful two-tone effect that looks great anywhere in your garden. In fall they change again, to a rich, russet-red, making a final splash of color for the end of the season.
Once the leaves are fully open and gold, flowering begins, and this continues through June and July, and sometimes again in September. The flower clusters grow at the ends of the shoots, in a dome-shaped cluster about 2 inches across. The bright-pink flowers are small, but they make up for it in their abundance, with up to 200 flowers in a single cluster, and many clusters all across the plant. The unusual combination of pink and yellow is not an obvious one, but it works like a charm.
The broad spreading form of this plant makes it perfect for filling the front of your shrub beds, in bold clumps or as a continuous edging. It is neat enough to make a low hedge with no more than a single trim a year. In smaller beds it is perfect as an accent plant. Use it on either side of an entrance, or where a set of steps begins or ends. Plant it among rocks and boulders with other low plants for a great effect. Use it around trees, or in planters under larger shrubs or trees. Carpet a slope or bank for colorful and effective erosion control and a terrific look.
The Magic Carpet Spirea is super-hardy, growing well right through zone 3. Yet it also grows in warmer areas, even in zone 8, with great resistance to hot weather.
Full sun is the perfect spot for the Magic Carpet Spirea, so put it right out there, where it will give you the brightest leaf colors and the most flowers. It can also tolerate a few hours of shade each day, but too much shade will turn the leaves greenish. It will grow well in just about any well-drained soil, including poor soils and in tough urban settings.
This tough and reliable plant is generally free of any significant pests or diseases, and it thrives with almost no care. A trim in early spring, before the leaves appear, will keep it looking perfect. You might also like to give it a quick trim once the main flowering is over, to remove the spent flower heads and stimulate some fresh new leaves, but if you don’t those flower heads will soon disappear beneath new stems. After some years you might consider cutting it back to a few inches tall, to invigorate and renew it completely.
Back in the 19th century, when Japan was being opened up to trade, many new plants were introduced. One was a shrub with pink flowers that today we know as the Anthony Waterer Spirea, which was brought to England from a Japanese nursery in 1870. Experts disagree about its origins. Some think it is simply a variety of the Japanese spirea, Spiraea japonica. Others think it is a hybrid between that plant and another called Spiraea albiflora and should be called Spiraea x bumalda. For gardeners it doesn’t really matter that much. In 1972 the F.J. Grootendorst nursery, in Boskoop, Holland, introduced a plant that was found as a novel golden-leaf stem growing on ‘Anthony Waterer’. They called it ‘Goldflame’, and it became a garden standard.
Around 1990 David Tristram, at the Walberton Nursery in West Sussex, England, collected some seed from a plant of ‘Goldflame’. He chose the best and most compact plants among the seedlings, let them seed and did it all again. He did it one more time and among those third-generation seedlings was a unique plant that he named ‘Walbuma’. It was patented in 1995 (PP# 9,363, now expired), and this is the plant widely known and sold as the Magic Carpet Spirea.
The Magic Carpet Spirea is a great low-growing shrub, with significant improvements over the older ‘Goldflame’, and a great garden plant in so many ways. These reliable, colored-leaf shrubs are always immensely popular, so our stock never lasts long. Order now and take a ride into the magic of colorful, low-maintenance gardening – don’t wait.